Themis Bioscience (‘Themis’), a biotechnology company developing innovative prophylactic vaccines for emerging tropical infections, announced today the first closing of EUR 7 Million in a Series B financing of up to EUR 10 Million, led by new investor Wellington Partners. Existing investors Ventech and Omnes Capital (formerly Crédit Agricole Private Equity) also participated in the round. Dr Regina Hodits, General Partner at Wellington Partners will join Themis’ Board.
With their Chikungunya fever vaccine candidate demonstrating good immunogenicity, safety and tolerability in a Phase 1 clinical trial (Results published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, March 2015), Themis plans to progress this lead product candidate into clinical phase II trials. In parallel the company will advance its other promising development pipeline in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Paris, originators of the measles vector platform licensed to Themis.
Themis also announced the new structure of its Board with Dr Gerd Zettlmeissl being named Chairman of the Board. Dr Zettlmeissl spent more than 20 years in executive positions in the international pharmaceutical and vaccine biotech industry. From 2005 until May 2011 he served as CEO of Intercell AG. Experienced biotech and vaccine industry expert Dr Jean-Paul Prieels will join as a new member the expanded board. He served as Senior Vice President of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals until January 2011, led GSK’s global vaccine R&D development activities and was Head of Research for GSK Vaccines.
Dr Erich Tauber, CEO of Themis stated: “With the new funds, we are planning to move our Chikungunya vaccine candidate quickly into a Phase 2 clinical trial and also achieve important milestones for the other vaccine candidates in our preclinical development pipeline. We are very pleased to have Wellington Partners leading this financing round and I would like to welcome Dr Regina Hodits and Dr Jean-Paul Prieels to the Board. I am sure that Themis will profit from their scientific and industrial expertise in supporting our goals to establish new partnerships within the pharmaceutical industry and to drive our product pipeline towards commercialisation.”
Dr Regina Hodits, General Partner at Wellington Partners, commented: “With global warming and increased travel activities, tropical diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue fever, and other viral diseases are becoming a serious threat to global health. Based on a proven measles vaccine platform, Themis’ portfolio of vaccine candidates represent an attractive investment opportunity for Wellington, and they have the potential to address urgent unmet medical needs.”
In 2011, Themis raised EUR 5 Million in a series A financing following a seed financing round from Austria Wirtschaftsservice (AWS) in 2009, and other substantial financial contributions from Austrian national funding agencies like FFG and Inits.
Themis Bioscience GmbH develops prophylactic vaccines with a focus on emerging tropical infectious diseases and has initial vaccine candidates currently in development for chikungunya and dengue fever. The company has exclusive, worldwide licenses for chikungunya- and dengue vaccines, based on the innovative and fully patent-protected measles virus vaccine vector platform from the Institut Pasteur in Paris. This platform underpins Themis’ growing pipeline of vaccines. Themis and Institut Pasteur are actively collaborating on additional targets. Themis was founded by experienced vaccine experts in September 2009 and is based in Vienna. For more information, visit the website: www.themisbio.com
About the vaccine technology
The core technology of the measles vector platform has been developed at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and is licensed to Themis. It relies on the use of the standard measles vaccine as a vaccination vector. Genes coding for selected antigens from the chikungunya virus have been inserted into the genome of this well-established vaccine. The measles-chikungunya vaccine delivers the chikungunya antigens directly to macrophages and dendritic cells - the most potent and effective antigen-presenting cells, thereby triggering a specific immune response to chikungunya virus. This results in a powerful, antigen-focused immune response, which is most likely to confer long-term immunity as do measles vaccines.
Chikungunya fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease causing symptoms including fever, headache, joint and muscle pain and bleeding of the nose and gums. Importantly, a large number of infected patients suffer from chronic sequela months and years after the acute infection. The chikungunya virus originated in Asia and western and central Africa and since late 2013, more than one million cases have been reported in the Americas and the Caribbean alone, resulting in a significant public health and economic burden.
About Wellington Partners
Wellington Partners is among the most successful pan-European Venture Capital firms. With more than € 800 million under management and offices in Munich, London and Zurich, Wellington Partners invests in start-up companies throughout Europe that have the potential to become global leaders in the areas of digital media, resource efficiency and life sciences. Since 1998, Wellington Partners has invested in more than 100 companies, including publicly listed firms like Actelion, Evolva, Genticel, Implanet, Noemalife, Oxford Immunotec, Supersonic Imagine, Wavelight (acquired by Alcon) and Xing as well as privately held companies like Atopic,AyoxxA,Definiens (acquired by AZ), Grandis (acquired by Novartis), immatics, invendo medical, MPM Medical, MTM Laboratories (acquired by Roche), NEUWAY Pharma, Rigontec, Quanta, Sapiens (acquired by MDT), Sensimed, Symetis, ImmobilienScout24 (acquired by Deutsche Telekom) and Spotify. For further information, please visit www.wellington-partners.com.